So What Is Servant Leadership Anyway?


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In many ways, it been there all along- right in front of our faces. We just didn't see it.

In our defense, it was easy to miss- you won't find it on the shelf at your local book store, and although pieces of its overall philosophy have been woven into a number of other leadership models, it isn't mentioned as much as it should be.

What are we talking about?

One simple approach to leadership that could totally revolutionise the way that you run your business- Servant Leadership.

The phrase 'servant leadership' was coined by Robert K Greenleaf in his 1970 essay The Servant as a Leader. In this essay, Greenleaf sets out a number of ideals, values, and philosophies about putting people first. These have been adopted into a number of different leadership models over the years, many of which are used by top organizations the world over.

The Servant Leader Profile

As Greenleaf himself states, servant leaders are servants first- the ultimate team players whose actions and purpose extend beyond the needs and desires of their own and extends to their colleagues and partners. They understand that if the team is ultimately successful, that they too are successful.

The leap from servant to servant leader is a difficult one for many people, but comes from a desire to continue to serve at an elevated level of responsibility.Servant leaders don't lead for power, glory, or a plush corner office- they lead to make a bigger impact on their people and their organization. They lead with heart, empathy and authenticity.

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The Servant Leadership Philosophy

Greenleaf's philosophy is a simple one. Rather than putting organizations’ leaders in the position of ultimate authority and power, the Servant Leader methodology is all about the sharing of power and control with those they are responsible for, and getting out of their way to allow them to be their best possible selves at work and at home.The Servant Leadership model promotes those who are servants first- people who have shown an interest to help others and be a part of a team rather than those who seek power and authority.

And the best part of Servant Leadership is the ability for leaders to connect with, build and grow meaningful and authentic relationships with their people in a way that allows them to truly understand them- and build their organization around personal successes.

Servant Leadership Isn't Just A Practice. It's A Disciplined Approach To Culture.

Servant Leadership isn't the easiest path for leaders to take. It takes time to develop, and an extremely strong commitment by leaders to stay disciplined in their commitment to embodying the Servant Leader philosophy.

However, the impacts of this discipline can be amazingly rewarding through the creation of lasting change, authentic relationships with your employees and counterparts, the ability to persevere with a non-anxious presence and a focus on doing things that are right rather than doing things the "right" way.

Serve Those Who Serve Your Customers And Clients.

Traditional models of leadership have the employee serving the leader, who directs them to serve the customer. Wouldn't it be better if your employees were being served by your leaders so that they can focus entirely on your clients and customers?

Organizations that implement the Servant Leadership model have re-wired the way that they look at leadership, and rather than designing a hierarchical approach to their resources, they've flattened their design so their leadership team is serving employees. This allows the employee team to focus their efforts on taking care of your clients, ultimately creating the best outcomes for your business- happy employees and very happy customers.

Organizations Who Believe In Servant Leadership Philosophy

The Servant Leadership philosophy continues to impact organizations at a local, national and international level, and regardless of the size of the organization or its location- the results of the philosophy on overall organizational success cannot be denied.

In Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Companies to Work For in 2016, 17 organizations listed themselves as practitioners of Servant Leadership. That doesn’t sound like much- until you realise that 5 of the top 10 companies use servant leadership. All 17 of those organizations also outperformed the market by over 50%, showing that servant leadership has a real impact on performance. These organizations range in size from just over 1,200 employees to 167,000 across multiple countries- whatever your size, servant leadership can work for you.

Some of the largest global brands, such as Starbucks, Walmart, SAS, Zappos and Marriott International list themselves as servant led organizations.

What We Offer

We knew that there had to be a better way of leading our organizations- one that was built around the people that work with us, rather than just focusing on results. That’s why a few years ago, we opened the Servant Leadership Centre of Canada. We offer both online and in-person learning streams for leaders and teams- whatever suits your schedule best, we’ll be able to fit you in. We also offer organizational development and design aimed at helping organizations make a real commitment to Servant Leadership as one of their core values.

Too many organizations have lost their way when it comes to leadership- and the Servant Leadership Centre of Canada are here to set things on the right track again.